Monday, August 20, 2012

Rant about doctrine.

As George Guthrie (NIV Application Commentary) commented on the contemporary significance of Hebrews 1:1-4, he made these observations. “Yet grave danger lies in focusing on the so-called “practical” teachings of Christianity to the neglect of the “theological.”   “Right theology lays an important foundation for a Christian life robustly lived.”

He included this Dorothy Sayers quote in his discussion of the topic.  

Christ, in His divine innocence, said to the woman of Samaria, “Ye worship ye know not what”—being apparently under the impression that it might be desirable, on the whole, to know what one was worshiping.  He thus showed himself sadly out of touch with the twentieth-century mind, for the cry today is: “Away with the tedious complexities of dogma—let us have the simple spirit of worship, just worship, no matter of what!”  The only drawback to this demand for a generalized and undirected worship is the practical difficulty of arousing any sort of enthusiasm for the worship of nothing in particular.

Her point is well taken with one exception. I am afraid the Church today seems curiously able to whip up a nice enthusiasm for content-weak worship.  Dr. Guthrie followed up this quote with the observation that “Those who neglect theology may live a shallow, insipid for of Christianity that, in the end, neither affects life nor endures the test of time.” 

Note two qualifiers about teaching doctrine.  First, we do not get to the point of splitting sophisticated doctrinal hairs in order to have serious, content rich teaching.   Second, it is very helpful and necessary to help people make a concrete connection between their theology and orthopraxy ("right practice").  We need to have a solid understanding of what to believe about God, etc. and how that should affect our thoughts, words, and actions on Monday.

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